LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers debut ended in a 128-119 defeat at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on Thursday night.
Week 1: Thursday night’s results
- Bulls 108-127 76ers
- Heat 113-112 Wizards
- LA Lakers 119-128 Trail Blazers
The three-time NBA champion switched hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers for the west coast during the offseason, signing a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, and his first competitive game came away to Portland.
James, who led Cleveland to their first NBA championship in 2016 after returning to the Cavaliers from the Miami Heat, was playing for a Western Conference franchise for the first time in his career.
He has joined a roster that included promising but untested players like 20-year-old Lonzo Ball, 21-year-old Brandon Ingram and 23-year-old’s Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, but coach Luke Walton has also surrounded him with veterans Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and Javale McGee.
Before the game, Portland held a moment’s silence for Paul Allen, the franchise’s owner and co-founder of Microsoft who died earlier this week aged 65.
James scored 18 points in his first half as a Laker but Portland led 65-63 at half-time.
He did not add to his points tally in the third period, which ended with the Trail Blazers leading 93-91 in what appeared to be a close contest before Damian Lillard and Nik Stauskas took over the show for the home side.
The Lakers were still in touch with six minutes remaining, trailing 109-104 with six minutes left, but CJ McCollum, who chipped in 21 points, sank an 18-footer and followed with a three-pointer to make it 114-104. The Lakers got to within 124-119 in the final minute, but Stauskas sealed the outcome with two late free throws as Portland ran away with it.
James, who turns 34 in December, ended the game with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a losing effort.
Lillard ended the game with a leading 28 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, while Stauskas sunk 24 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Lakers will look to get their first win of the 2018-2019 campaign when they host Houston Rockets on Saturday.
Live NBA: Boston @ Toronto: Celtics travel to the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto to take on the Raptors. Sky Sports Arena from 1am.
Week 1: Friday’s NBA fixtures
- Hornets @ Magic
- NY Knicks @ Nets
- Celtics @ Raptors (Live on Sky Sports 1am)
- Hawks @ Grizzlies
- Cavaliers @ Timberwolves
- Kings @ Pelicans
- Pacers @ Bucks
- Warriors @ Jazz
- Thunder @ Clippers
Sky Sports is the new home of the NBA in the UK with live coverage throughout the week, including Saturday night’s action free to all Sky subscribers via Sky Sports Mix.